Great news for MX-Linux fans. Work is on the way to add a KDE Plasma version as an alternative to the default Xfce version. MX-Linux has witnessed an incredible increase in popularity over the past couple of years and a KDE edition should add even more momentum to the project. While Xfce is great, KDE Plasma should offer a similar but more modern experience while keeping a similar low demand on system resources.
The MX-Linux KDE edition is 64-bit only and comes with the “Advanced Hardware Support” (AHS) repos enabled by default. This means it comes with a newer kernel and graphics drivers meant for users with newer AMD or Intel GPU hardware.
I went ahead and downloaded the beta version and decided to install it to a USB drive as my main drive is full. It’s a rather large 2GB download, LibreOffice is partially to blame for that. I fired up the ISO in a virtual machine and proceeded to install it to a thumb drive with a USB 3 connection. The process was painfully slow. We’re talking Sunday roast oven slow here, and eventually failed with an error message. I then simply put the ISO on a USB stick instead and tested it in a live session. That worked without a hitch.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’ll say it anyways: MX-Linux is not a fancy looking distro. From the website to the first time the system boots into the desktop it’s clear emphasis is on the system itself, on what’s under the hood. That’s totally fine and most users will tweak their desktop to their personal liking anyways.
Being based on Debian’s stable branch, Debian 10 “Buster” to be precise, the KDE Plasma version used here is still in version 5.14 (newest version is 5.19). Not too bad. There is always a trade off between Stability and having the latest an greatest.
The MX Welcome app includes their excellent 177 page user manual. The manual goes into every aspect. It explains their history, philosophy and how to set-up everything from scratch. It’s an interesting read for any new Linux enthusiast. The Manual hasn’t been updated for KDE yet so there will be a lot of reference to Xfce.
Some parts of the Welcome app are still inactive like the links to Videos and Forums. Just as with the manual, these will probably be resolved when the final version is ready.
Look & Feel
Contrary to the Xfce version, here we get the panel at it’s normal position at the bottom. There is also the usual Conky displayed on the top right. It can be easily deactivated or modified with the supplied tool. We also get a handy little system load indicator on the panel. MX-Linux sticks to KDE Plasma’s standard Breeze theme for the overall look and feel. The MX branding is confined to the menu icon and desktop wallpaper.
Htop is included by default and showed 588MB of memory usage after boot with 91 tasks and 164 threads active. Good standard figures for a KDE Plasma desktop.
MX Tools is probably the star of the show at MX Linux and we get it, of course, with the KDE edition as well. It provides a wide range of tools for anything from creating live persistent USB thumb drives, saving system snapshots, cleaning up the hard drive and installing Nvidia drivers and extra Codecs. A similar concept to openSUSE’s YaST but not as overwhelming and probably better geared to the average desktop user.
The system comes with a very large selection of pre-installed software. Depending on the user, this is either good or bad. I personally prefer less software by default and proceed to add my favorites but many users will be happy to have a complete system ready to go after a fresh install. The whole LibreOffice suite is included as is Gimp, the image editor, Clementine, the music player, VLC, the media player, Thunderbird, the email client, Firefox and many more. A nifty PDF Arranger is also included out of the box.
So far things are looking pretty good. With MX-linux developers’ excellent reputation for stability and quality work I’m sure the KDE version will be a great release. Fans of the default Xfce version need not to worry, according to the developers, it will remain the flagship version.
Once the final version is released, I’ll give it a detailed review. How about you? Are you a KDE user? How do you feel about a MX-Linux version? Let us know in the comments below and share your experience if you’ve played around with the beta.